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COMPLAINT BY MAURICE ARJOON
WRITTEN COMPLAINTMr. Maurice Arjoon made a written complaint dated January 16, 2014 to this Office alleging a multiplicity of wrongs done to him and two senior managers of the New Building Society Ltd (NBS).
Mr. Arjoon claimed to have been a former Director/Secretary, Chief Executive Officer of the NBS where he was employed at the Management, then Executive/Directorship level for nearly 30 years with an unblemished record until the events complained of.
Mr. Arjoon stated:
“On June 1st, 2007 two Managers and I were deliberately and maliciously charged for an allegedfraud which the Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as well as the Board of Directors of NBS knew we did not commit, and which was also confirmed by several investigations at the NBS. After 3 ½ years of blatant delays in the criminal court and without providing a shred of evidence of any wrongdoings my case was finally dismissed (and that of the Managers a year later), despite the fact that the DPP had stated in a letter to the Board that she had Strong and Compelling evidence against us. This totally untrue statement was subsequently repeated by DPP to the Chancellor (ag).
(Emphasis above and below reproduced as in original complaint)
Mr. Arjoon claimed that he brought a proceeding in the High Court against the DPP through the Attorney General alleging malicious prosecution.
This proceeding was dismissed by the Honourable Madam Justice Dawn Gregory. Mr. Arjoon filed an appeal which is still to be heard.
The following are excerpts from Mr. Arjoon’s complaint:
“At the time of the trumped up charges I was six months away from retirement when I would have been entitled to receive a lucrative monthly pension and substantial benefits. Despite my exemplary performance record with never even a warning letter and the fact that over five months of investigation at NBS which the Board was fully aware of and which never linked me to any wrong doings whatsoever, the NBS Board terminated my services stating fraud and negligence and serious misconduct, none of which is correct.”…
“I believe that an Independent Investigation will also reveal that persons from the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) including the DPP did not want to take action against the perpetrators identified, and that the wrongful charge and subsequent termination of services were instituted to take over the NBS and as “punishment” for certain decisions and/or recommendations I made which was in the interest of the NBS but was deemed unfavourable to the President of Guyana and certain Directors of the NBS. Based on my own investigation, credible information received, and what has since been officially revealed in court, stated below is a list of the persons involved – directly and/or indirectly – and their participation in this evil Injustice, for which the attachments support the allegations made herein. May I also mention that while the NBS is supposed to be a Private Company, it is run by persons aligned to the Government and/or the CIOG.”…
“In 2006, at an NBS Board meeting three Directors voted for an investment of G$2B in the Berbice Bridge, while three voted zero investment. I recommended that the Directors be guided by the Financial Institutions Act in determining the quantum to invest in the Berbice Bridge, to which they all agreed without any objection thus $350M was invested (then). Less than 2 hours later, Nanda Gopaul telephoned me and said that as President Jagdeo did not get the $2B for the Berbice Bridge he – the President will “deal with me!”
- After the wrongful charge in June 2007, certain Directors of NBS subsequently confided that the President called them to a meeting at Office of the President where the Chairman and Vice Chairman lied that the police said they had evidence against me and the 2 Managers, and the President asked of the Board “Why do you have them there then?” and that this is the main reason they agreed to fire us.
- Further, when written to in January 2008 by my spouse, with information attached that the DPP wrongfully charged me and the two Managers, the President quickly confirmed the DPP in her previously acting position. Then, amendments to the NBS act were rushed through parliament and hastily assented to by the President, to make it impossible for NBS members to call special meetings in the event of wrongdoings.
- In November 2010 – before the criminal charges were dismissed – President Jagdeo asked a family member of mine if I was willing to accept full pension and benefits in return for dropping the lawsuit. Given that I was told the civil matter would be drawn out for years, I decided to accept and the President arranged for me to meet Dr. Nanda Gopaul at the Office of the President who admitted that I did no wrong and agreed for Legal Fees to be paid by NBS and that I can get full pension and benefits. Surprisingly, NBS Lawyer Ashton Chase sent a letter advising approximately half of my monthly pension and lump sum due, stating this was agreed to after discussion at the highest level!(This was refused)”…
“In 2007, Dr. NK Gopaul was the Vice Chairman of NBS as well as the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President. After the wrongful charge, Police (Inspector Wintz) subsequently said to me that they never had any evidence but that it was “Gopaul and Mc Doom who helped the DPP place the trumped up charges against me and two Mangers”! Certain NBS Directors also subsequently confided that “Mc Doom and Gopaul deceived them into believing the police had evidence against us and that we were guilty and also negligent, and, with the added pressure from President Jagdeo they were coerced into agreeing to our dismissal.”…
“Dr Ashni Singh is the Minister of Finance under whose jurisdiction are all Financial Institutions including the NBS. Consequently, a request was made in June 2007 by the 3 victims to conduct an investigation. The letter and attachments (see copy under “request for investigations”) was taken to him by hand by my son and daughter and before collecting the envelope, Dr. Singh told them “let me assure you that your father is absolutely innocent!”
Weeks later, a team of Bank of Guyana (BOG) officers conducted an investigation, but I (nor the 2 Managers) were interviewed by them. One of the BOG officers later confided that the BOG report confirmed the innocence of the CEO and 2 Managers, however, while the CIOG/muslim involvement was evident that was not included in the report (for fear of retaliation) but Dr. Singh and the Governor of the BOG were apprised of this fact. Dr. Singh never replied to the letter other sources from the BOG revealed that this BOG report confirmed that the 3 officers were innocent but that they were told to “duck” the report.
I myself subsequently spoke to Dr. Singh about the wrongful charges and the non-payment of my pension/benefits and his response was that he was surprised I have not received my pension and benefits but said to me: “you can hold your head high.”
The Ombudsman has jurisdiction to investigate any action taken by any department of Government or by the President, Ministers, officers or members of such a Department being action taken in exercise of the administrative functions of that department. Article 192 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana.
Mr. Arjoon’s complaint included allegations against Dr. Nanda Gopaul, at the time, Permanent Secretary of the Office of the President who allegedly relayed a threat from President Bharrat Jagdeo to Mr. Arjoon. According to Mr. Arjoon, the threat resulted from a perception that his advice, at a meeting of the Board of Director of the NBS, resulted in a decision to invest only $350 million of NBS funds in the Berbice Bridge instead of $2 billion anticipated by the President.
Mr. Arjoon further alleged that Dr. Ashni Singh, Minister of Finance, ordered an investigation by the Bank of Guyana of a fraud at the New Building Society Ltd. of which Mr. Arjoon was the Director/Secretary, Chief Executive Officer and that the report was deliberately suppressed by Dr. Singh to the detriment of Mr. Arjoon.
Mr. Arjoon alleged that against this background, he and two senior managers of the NBS were wrongfully charged for criminal offences for a fraud at the NBS.
I concluded that I have jurisdiction to investigate whether Mr. Maurice Arjoon suffered injustice as a result of the actions of public officials in the discharge of the functions of their respective offices.
During the course of my investigation, I saw a note which listed an exhibit that was supposed to be in the Police file headed: “eleven pages of notes at minister meeting”.
This document which was missing from the Police file suggests the intervention of a minister of Government in the Police investigation of the NBS fraud.
LETTER TO DR. LUNCHEON
I wrote to Dr. Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, drawing his attention to the allegations made by Mr. Arjoon against Dr. Nanda Gopaul, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President at the time of the events complained of, and Dr. Ashni Singh, Minister of Finance and in particular asked for their respective comments as follows:
- Whether Dr. Nanda Gopaul did call Mr. Arjoon as alleged and what did he tell him.
- Whether Dr. Ashni Singh did order an investigation by the Bank of Guyana of the NBS, as a result of the allegation of fraud, and whether the report of the investigation was deliberately suppressed to the detriment of anyone.
Dr. Nanda Gopaul replied through the Head of the Presidential Secretariat denying communicating any threat to Mr. Arjoon and in fact claimed that he and Mr. Arjoon had very cordial relations up to the time Mr. Arjoon was dismissed by the NBS.
To date no response has been received from Dr. Ashni Singh.
LETTER TO DPP AND HER REPLY
I also wrote Mrs. Shalimar Ali-Hack, Director of Public Prosecutions, suggesting that the Police investigation into the NBS fraud be re-opened and assessed by a fresh mind.
The DPP replied that she would be willing to so advise the police if there was new/additional evidence, of which none was available.
The DPP further stated that Mr. Arjoon and the other persons charged were discharged of the preliminary inquiry because the account holder from whose account money was withdrawn, migrated and never returned to complete her testimony in the Magistrate’s Court.
Excerpts from the DPP’s letter are stated as follows:
“It seems that Mr. Arjoon is using the fact of the discharge to support his allegation that there was no evidence against him. There were three (3) charges and they were all discharged. The reason for the discharge is the account holder from whose account the money was withdrawn, by a Power of Attorney in her absence, migrated and did not testify in two (2) of the charges. She testified in chief for the other one (1) charge but never returned to court to complete her testimony. Owing to her not testifying the persons charged, including Mr. Arjoon, were discharged.
Consequent to the money being withdrawn from her account and the account being closed she brought a civil action against New Building Society and New Building Society settled with her. She received all her money which was stolen from the account and then migrated and never returned to Guyana to testify and complete here testimony resulting in all the accused being discharged.
The DPP and I had further discussions on the telephone resulting in my suggesting to her that I be afforded the opportunity to read the complete Police file on the NBS fraud, a suggestion to which the DPP was not opposed.
I accordingly requested a copy of the complete Police file from the Commissioner of Police.
I did receive a Police file during May, 2014.
I contemplated seeking the assistance of Mr. Henry Chester, retired Deputy Commissioner of Police, to review the Police file.
I did retain Mr. Chester for this task after seeking and obtaining written confirmation from the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Seelall Persaud, that he had no objection to the retention of Mr. Chester.
Having reviewed the file sent, Mr. Chester observed that the file received was not the complete Police file.
Some of the deficiencies from the Police file were pointed out to the Commissioner and a second file was received as a result.
Among the missing documents from the Police file was a listing at Number 1 under list of Exhibits referred to as “eleven pages of notes at Minister meeting.”
This document was also missing from the second file provided to this Office, a fact that was pointed out in a second letter to the Commissioner with my observation that a special effort be made to locate the missing document in view of the allegations made by Mr. Arjoon.
I eventually received a letter from the Commissioner with an attachment from O.C. Fraud to the effect that the “eleven pages…” were not found and a note that the Investigating Rank, Asst. Supt. Paul Wintz, had died.
The review of the Police file showed the following:
REVIEW OF POLICE FILE
On the morning of 31st October, 2006 a man claiming to be Compton Chase presented a Guyana Passport in his name and a General Power of Attorney to Amrita Prashad, an employee of the NBS, at the NBS Head Office for the purpose of making a withdrawal of $15,000,000 from the account of Bibi Shamila Khan. He did not present a bank book for the account.
No. – 1026665
Issued – 15th November, 2002
Name – Compton Chase
Date of Birth – 9th August, 1935.
Power of Attorney
Bibi Shamila Khan of 2970 Jane Street, Toronto, Ontario M1K2J9, Canada formerly of 38 Sukhai Street, Better Hope, East Coast Demerara, Guyana.
Compton Chase of 100 Cedar Court, Lamaha Gardens, Georgetown, Guyana executed on 12th September, 2006 before Tyrone Ramroop at the Guyana Consulate, Toronto, Ontario, Canada and witnessed by Parbattie Persaud and Sanita Singh.
Registered at the Deeds Registry in Georgetown on 20th September, 2006 and numbered 6947 of 2006.
Amrita Prashad extracted the Index Card for Save and Prosper account #4745 in the name of Bibi Shamila Khan.
The person claiming to be Compton Chase told Ms. Prashad that the account holder was in Canada and could be reached on telephone No. 647-868-9552.
Prashad took the documents to Imran Bacchus another employee of NBS who recorded particulars from Chase’s Passport and the Power of Attorney on the index card.
Prashad then took the documents to NBS Supervisor Kumar Ragobar who examined them and referred her to Operations Manager, Kent Vincent because the amount of the withdrawal was above the limit ($1 million) he, Ragobar, could have authorised.
Operations Manager Kent Vincent examined the documents and in particular compared the signature on the Power of Attorney with that on the index card, was apparently satisfied and he took the documents to Mr. Maurice Arjoon, Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Arjoon instructed Vincent to contact Bibi Shamila Khan to verify the withdrawal request and the Power of Attorney.
Vincent instructed NBS telephone operator to make the call to the telephone number provided by Chase, to Bibi Shamila Khan, which she did and made a record of the call in a book for recording outgoing overseas telephone calls.
REPORT OF INVESTIGATING RANK
The following are excerpts from a report by the Investigating rank:
16”… There was no telephone Cumber(sic) for Bibi Shamila Khan recorded on the index card, as a result he gave the telephonenumber supplied by Compton Chase to the telephone operator with instructions to contact Bibi Shamila Khan.
- The telephone operator placed thecall, and shortly after connected a female who identified herself as Bibi Shamila Khan to Kent Vincent. He identified himself and requested from the female her passport number, date of birth, date of issue and last local address which proved to be correct as per index card. He also asked her if she had made anyone her Power of Attorney and she told him that Compton Chase has been appointed by her, and she had authorized the withdrawal of $15,000,000.00 from her account which had an approximate balance of $69,000,000.00, which was also correct. He then asked her about her passbook and she told him that it had been misplaced and asked the procedure of getting a new one. He told her that the society required her to send a signed conformation of the transaction by fax and she could mention the lost passbook, which she promised to do the following day. Kent Vincent then went to the counter where he identified Compton Chase by the photograph in the passport, he told Chase that he had spoken to Bibi Shamila Khan and was awaiting a fax to confirm the transaction asking him to return the following day.
- The following day 2006-11-01 Kent Vincent received a call from the said female who claimed to be Bibi Shamila Khan. She asked if he received the fax which he said he did but it was not clear, and she would have to send another, she did so and Vincent collected same. (See copies of faxes dated 31st October, 2006 in file). Shortly after Compton Chase entered the bank, and spoke to Imran Bacchus who in turn spoke to Kent Vincent, he referred the transaction to Maurice Arjoon, who after examining the documents, and fax gave verbal approval. Vincent made a note of this approval on the fax. Kent Vincent then instructed Imran Bacchus to process the transaction which was done and two cheques #067065408 in favour of M. Kryshundayal for $10,225,000.00 and cheque # 067065409 in favour of Compton Chase for $4,775,000.00 as requested by Compton Chase were prepared and taken to Kent Vincent along with accompanying documents. He again checked then signed the two cheques, after which he took them to Maurice Arjoon who signed the said cheques as the second signatory. These two cheques were handed over to Compton Chase along with an indemnity form for Bibi Shamila Khan to sign and return in order to be issued with a duplicate passbook, also his passport and original Power of Attorney a duplicate of which was kept by the society. It must be mentioned that Imran Bacchus prepared the withdrawal slip (see copy of withdrawal slip on cheques in file).
- On the 17th November, 2006 the said woman identifying herself as Bibi Shamila Khan allegedly telephoned Kent Vincent via New Building Society Operator and informed him that she need another withdrawal and sent a fax to the effect with instructions that Compton Chase would be making the withdrawal of $22,664,000.00 in two cheques $20,500,000.00 payable to M. Hussain and $2, 164,000.00 payable to Compton Chase. Shortly after Compton Chase entered the society and presented his passport and Power of Attorney to Imran Bacchus informing him that he needed to make a withdrawal $22,664,000.00, and he should go to Kent Vincent, who was aware of the transaction. Bacchus followed the procedure and took the documents to Kent Vincent who again sought and gained the approval from Maurice Arjoon, which he made a note of a fax (see fax in file). Imran Bacchus was then instructed to process the transaction and prepared the withdrawal slip as per instructions on the fax, same was signed by Compton Chase, he then prepared cheque number 067065891 for $20,500,000.00 for M. Hussein and 067065892 for $2,164,000.00 for Compton Chase and took them to Kent Vincent who signed the cheques as the first signatory and Kissoon Baldeo signed as the second signatory, after which the cheques were handed over to Compton Chase. (See copies of withdrawal slip and cheque in file). On the 20th November, 2006 Compton Chase returned to New Building Society with the cheque payable to M. Hussain and requested that it be deposited into Bibi Shamila Khan’s account, and two cheques be made out to M. Hussain for $10,200,000.00 and Daniram for $10,300,000.00 for the amount of $20,500,000.00. He wrote those instructions on the back of the withdrawal slip dated 2006-11-17, and the two cheques #067065524 for $10,200,000.00 in favour of M. Hussain and cheque # 067065525 for $10,300,000.00 in favour of Daniram prepared by Bacchus those two cheques were signed by Kent Vincent and Kissoon Baldeo, after which they were given to Compton Chase (see copies of cheques in file).
- Sometime prior to the 8th December, 2006 the said woman who again identified herself as Bibi Shamila Khan allegedly called Kent Vincent via the New Building Society operator and informed him that she wanted to close her account and would send a fax to that effect conforming the closure. On the 8th December, 2006 she again called Kent Vincent who verified that the fax had been received (see copy of fax dated 7th December, 2006). The said day Compton Chase went to New Building Society where he presented his passport and Power of Attorney to Imran Bacchus and indicated that he wished to close the account. It must be noted at this time that fax allegedly sent by Bibi Shamila Khan instructed that the final balance be made payable to G. Ramotar. Imran Bacchus followed the procedure and took the Power of Attorney, passport and index card to Kent Vincent, whoauthorised the preparation of the cheques, Imran Bacchus prepared the withdrawal form which Compton Chase signed after which he prepared cheque #06706643 for $17,800,000.00 in favour of G. Ramotar and cheque #067066464 for $14,430,384.00 in favour of G. Ramotar. These cheques were signed by Kent Vincent, who took them along with the documents and the fax to Nizoodeen Mohamed for the second signature, he referred the transaction to Maurice Arjoon. The transaction was taken to Arjoon who signed cheque # 06706643 for $17,800,000.00,and upon realising that the indemnity not been submitted by Bibi Shamila Khan, instructed that the cheques be withheld until it was received by New Building Society.
- The said day Kent Vincent allegedly placed a call through the operator to Bibi Shamila Khan informing her of the need for the indemnity fore (sic) the cheques could be released. The said day Bibi Shamila Khan called back to say she was not getting through with the fax, and would send the identity(sic)form via email which she did addressed to Kent Vincent, who sought approval to release the cheques. Maurice Arjoon gave the approval on the remaining cheque # 067066464 was countersigned by Kissoon Baldeo, after which according to Kent Vincent they were handed over to Compton Chase thus closing Bibi Shamila Khan’s account (see copy of fax dated 206-12-07 (sic) in file).
- Imran Bacchus further claimed that on 8th December, 2006 it was he who took the two cheques to Maurice Arjoon after they had been signed by Kent Vincent, Arjoon then signed the one cheque and not seeing the indemnity did not sign the second cheque and instructed Bacchus to inform Vincent to hold the cheques pending the identity (sic) form. This was done and the cheques and documents were left with Vincent. Imran Bacchus then went out and upon returning was told by Mrs. Baldeo that she had torn out two cheques and left them with head cashier Tracy Duncan-Clarke. He also mentioned that it was he who took the cheques to Maurice Arjoon and at no time did Kent Vincent instructed him to take them to Nezam Mohamed for the second signature. On Monday 11th December, 2006 Bonita Baldeo told Imran Bacchus that an indemnity form had not been received and instructed him to collect the two cheques from Mrs. Duncan- Clarke, the withdrawal form from the vault and the cheque book from the Customer Service Department, and take them to Kent Vincent, along with the index card of Bibi Shamila Khan, Kent Vincent told him to go to Maurice Arjoon for the second signature but when he went to Mr Arjoon’s office, the secretary Mrs. Chichester went in and spoke to Arjoon, then came out and told Bacchus that Arjoon had instructed that he take the transaction to Mr. Baldeo for the second signature, which he did and same was done, he then went downstairs but did not see Compton Chase as a result he left the cheques with Duncan-Clarke and returned the remaining documents to their respective places. He could not remember if it was he who handed over the cheques to Compton Chase.
- Farouk Razack the owner of Swiss House Cambio and his two employees Mohamed Hussain and Mouldarlall Kryshundayal, along with Vishrakand Narine and Ganesh Ramotar of L. Mohabeer and Sons Cambio were contacted and statements obtained from them in relation to the transaction done in their names. They all with the exception of Farouk Razack admitted that they receive cheques from their employer who instruct them to go to the bank and encash the cheques which have already been made out in their names. They would on each occasion encash the cheque and return the cash to their employer. Farouk Razack claimed that it is a norm that customers including banks would telephone him and request to purchase foreign currency, he would in turn instruct the customer to write a cheque in one of his employees name and when the customer presents the cheque, he would send the employee in whose name the cheque is prepared to encash same at the respective bank on their return with the cash Guyana currency he would instruct that the equivalent in foreign currency be handed over to the customer. During November, 2006 the New Building Society telephoned telling him that a customer requested to purchase $100,000.00 US. He told the employee of the New Building Society that it would take some time to accumulate that amount of US dollars. Shortly after a Negro man fitting the description of Compton Chase went to his cambio with a cheque for the equivalent of $100,000.00 US, however he did not have that amount of US currency, and this was communicated to the man who promised to return.
- Sometime after the New Building Society again called and enquired from Razack if he had equivalent of $50,000.00 US dollars to sell to the said customer to which he said yes and instructed the caller to prepare the cheque for the equivalent of the said sum in M. Kryshundayal’s name. Shortly after Compton Chase presented the cheque which Kryshundayal encashed at the bank. On his return with the cash Razack had not accumulated the US currency and Chase took the Guyana currency instead. Chase subsequently called Razack and request to purchase $50,000.00 US and Razack told him to prepare a cheque in M. Hussain’s name which he did and Hussain was sent to cash the cheques, Chase again collected the Guyana currency instead of US currency, both Mouldorlall(sic) Kryshundayal and Mohamed Hussain corroborated Farouk Razack’s story.
- Vishrakand Narine claimed that in November, 2006 a customer went to L. Mohabeer and Son and requested to purchase $100,000.00 US he told the customer to prepare a cheque in the name of G. Ramotar. Later the said day the said customer returned with a cheque for the equivalent of $50,000.00 US made out in the name of G. Ramotar. He handed the said cheque to G. Ramotar to encash at the bank. G. Ramotar claimed that he took the said cheque to the bank, encashed same and handed over the cash to L. Mohabeer his employer.
- Upon examination of the documents uplifted from the New Building Society it was observed that Power of Attorney # 6947/2006 dated 12thSeptember, 2006 was headed Republic of Guyana, County of Demerara and stated that Bibi Shamila Khan of 2970 Jane Street, Ontario, Toronto M1K2J9 Canada formerly of 38 Sukhai Street, Better Hope, East Coast Demerara, Guyana, personally appear before Tyrone Ramroop, Counsel General of Guyana, Ontario, Canada, and nominated Compton Chase of 100 Cedar Court, Lamaha Gardens, Georgetown, Guyana to be her Power of Attorney. The said Power of Attorney was signed by Bibi Shamila Khan and witnessed by Parbattie Persaud and Sunita Singh. It was stamped Notarised Public Counsel General of Guyana, Ontario, Canada and signed Tyrone Ramroop, it also bore two round Deeds Registry of Guyana Stamps, and two ovalshaped stamps, Counsel General of the Republic of Guyana, Toronto Canada dated 15th September, 2006. The Power of Attorney was also stamped with a stamp saying that a true copy of the original was registered at the Deeds Registry, Georgetown 20th October, 2006 and signed D. Bowman…
- Fax dated 17th November, 2006 at 10:45 hours addressed to the Manager New Building Society and Attention Mr. Kent Vincent again confirmed a prior conversation and authorised Compton Chase to withdraw $22,664,000.00 from Save and Prosper account #4745, $20,000,000.00 to M. Hussain $2,164,000.00 to Compton Chase, signed Bibi Shamila Khan. This fax was also dated 16th November, 2006 and had a notation referred to Mr. Arjoon ok signed Kent Vincent dated 2006-11-17.
- Fax dated 7th December, 2006 at 14:34 hours addressed to the Manager New Building Society and Attention Mr. Kent Vincent confirmed a prior conversation between Bibi Shamila Khan and Kent Vincent regarding the closing of Save and Prosper account #4745 and the final balance to be paid to G. Ramotar, the Power of Attorney Compton Chase would negotiate on her behalf. The fax was also dated 7th December, 2006 and signed Bibi Shamila Khan. It also had a notation “spoke with Ms. Khan” via telephone signed Kent Vincent dated 2006-12-08. Kent Vincent claimed he received a call from Bibi Shamila Khan on 2006-12-08 asking if he receives the fax which he said he did. Compton Chase subsequently went to New Building Society and they(sic) said day, as was done before, the transaction was process the cheques prepared, both signed by Kent Vincent and one by Maurice Arjoon who insisted that the indemnity submitted before the second cheque was signed.
- Kent Vincent then place a call through the operator to Bibi Shamila Khan in Canada at 11:57 hours which lasted three minutes (see telephone printout and operator’s telephone book in file) during which he told her of the instructions passed by Maurice Arjoon, and she promised to fax the identity(sic) form the said day. Late that day she telephoned Vincent, telling him that she was not getting through on the fax machine, he told her to use Linden Branch of New Building Society fax which she tried but did not get through. She then sent the indemnity form to Kent Vincent via email at 4:03 p.m (see copy in file) after which permission was granted to pay and the second cheque counter signed by Kissoon Baldeo then handed over to Compton Chase who was at New Building Society.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Ret) Mr. Henry Chester assisted me in reviewing the Police files. He produced an interim and then a final report of his investigation. Both reports are annexed to this report. Mr. Chester noted what he considered lapses in the investigation by the Police.
It is a fact that Ashley Legall who had assumed the name of Compton Chase on the forged Power of Attorney, stated his correct home address (85 Durban Street Lodge) when he visited the NBS to make the first withdrawal.
There is a note at paragraph 37 of the report of the investigating rank that “Lot 85 Durban Street was checked where one Beaufort Adams was contacted and questioned, he claimed he knows no one named Compton Chase and no one by that name lives there”.
The mention of Lot 85 Durban Street is rather careless. Durban Street passes through three wards-Werk-en-Rust, Wortmanville and also Lodge. The report failed to specify which section of Durban Street was visited.
The above transactions resulted in withdrawals of all of the money in and closure of account no. 4745 in the name of Bibi Shamila Khan.
Dr Zainool Safi and his wife Bibi Shamila Safi nee Khan went to the NBS on 3rd January, 2007 to update their joint account and (Bibi Shamila) to close a joint account in the names of herself and her sister. The bank book was presented for updating.
Mrs. Safi withdrew all of the money from the joint account held by herself and her sister.
The NBS staff told the Safis that, because of the large number of books presented to the Society at that time for updating, (just after Christmas) the Safis would have to leave the book, to be uplifted at a later date.
The NBS issued an acknowledgement slip as proof of the deposit of the book.
Dr. Safi claimed that when he examined the book on his return to the NBS on 19th January, 2007, he discovered to his horror that all the money in the account was withdrawn.
After a preliminary investigation the withdrawals were treated as fraudulent and Police investigations commenced.
THE FORGED POWER OF ATTORNEY
The Consulate is not concerned with the preparation and content of the document, in this case a Power of Attorney. The Consulate is only concerned with the authentication of documents originating from within Canada that are presented at the Consulate for authentication.
Mr. Tyrone Ramroop before whom the Power of Attorney was allegedly signed and who allegedly authenticated the Power of Attorney, denied signing it.
The Consul General, Danny Doobay, denied that the Power of Attorney was authenticated at the Consulate General in Toronto and pointed out all the false stamps and other false features on the forged document.
I now record my own observations.
The heading of the Power of Attorney is wrong. It is headed Republic of Guyana, County of Demerara.
This heading is supposed to state country and province or county where the document is executed so that the heading Republic of Guyana and County of Demerara should only apply to documents executed within Demerara, Guyana. This type of error is however not unusual.
Secondly, the document was prepared as if it was intended to be executed before a Notary Public. No problem with that.
However if such a document is presented to a Guyana Consulate to be executed by a Consular Officer, the stamp showingthe designation of the Consular Officer should normally supersede or be placed over the words Notary Public. This was not done.
Thirdly, Tyrone Ramroop identified himself in an Affidavit as a Consul attached to the Consulate General of Guyana in Ontario.
The forger(s) designated Tyrone Ramroop as Consul General twice on the Power of Attorney.
Fourthly, the certificate attached to the Power of Attorney absurdly reads:
I, Tyrone Ramroop, Consul General, Consulate General of the Republic of Guyana, in the City of Ontario in the Province of Canada, do hereby certify… (underscoring mine).
The Police record shows a passport application by a Compton Chase of 29 Norton Street, Wortmanville, Georgetown, born 9th August, 1935, issued 11th July, 1983, passport No. 370126. The identity of the applicant was verified by Charwin C.F. Burnham.
The number of the passport presented to Amrita Prashad of the NBS – No. 1026665 – is the number of a passport issued to one Rabindranauth Rao on 15th November, 2002. His address is Bush Lot Village, Corentyne and his identity was verified by Rohan Chandisingh, a principal of a private school.
It appears who ever forged the passport used in the fraud either had access to the genuine passports issued to Compton Chase and Rabindranauth Rao or had assistance from someone with access to the Passport infomation.
I so conclude because the date of birth of the real Compton Chase – 9th August, 1935 appears as the date of birth of “Compton Chase” on the forged Passport. The Passport number on the forged passport-102665 and the date of issue 15th November, 2002 are the same as stated on the passport application by Rabindranauth Rao.
In my opinion, it is clear that the senior management of the NBS accepted the passport and power of attorney presented by “Compton Chase” as genuine documents. It is also clear that on this basis, Mr. Kent Vincent accepted the Canadian telephone number supplied by “Chase” as the telephone number of Bibi Shamila Khan and believed that the person he spoke to by telephone was Bibi Shamila Khan.
The standard required for conviction of a criminal offence is proof beyond a reasonable doubt for every element of the offence – the acts as well as the mental ingredients.
Without intending any disrespect to anyone, I would state that carelessness, most species of negligence, foolhardiness or even stupidity are not the standard of proof of guilt for a criminal offence. I do not hereby state any finding or conclusion that anyone at the NBS should be blamed for any of these.
It follows therefore that if Mr. Kent Vincent honestly and genuinely believed that he was dealing with Bibi Shamila Khan, his actions cannot be regarded as criminal and this is the crucial issue that any court would have to grapple with before it could make a finding of guilt.
I am therefore at a loss to fathom why the three senior managers were placed before the Court before the arrest of the person calling himself Compton Chase.
I can find in the Police file no evidence that would lead any fair minded person to conclude that any one of the three senior managers was guilty of fraud.
I cannot substitute my own judgement for that of the DPP. I also note the constitutional provision that the DPP is subject to the direction of no one.
I however wrote the DPP, letter dated 29th August, 2014 which stated:
Dear Director of Public Prosecutions,
Review of Police file- NBS fraud
I have reviewed the Police file on the NBS fraud with the assistance of Mr. Henry Chester, retired Deputy Commissioner of Police.
I noted the following excerpt from paragraph 39 of a memorandum dated 13th April, 2007 from the investigating rank to the Officer in Charge, Fraud Squad:
“Taking all the aforementioned into consideration, it would appear that this fraud was perpetrated with the help of, Kent Vincent, Maurice Arjoon and Kissoon Baldeo all employees of the New Building Society who have the inside knowledge that Bibi Shamila Khan’s account was dormant and used the opportunity to conspire with “Compton Chase” to steal the said money.”
Criminal charges for conspiracy to defraud were thereafter instituted against Mr. Maurice Arjoon and two senior managers of the NBS.
However, after Ashley Legall, who had assumed the name of Compton Chase in a Power of Attorney was arrested on or about 4th October, 2007, he gave an unsigned statement in which he named one Mohan Shibdeen. From the information provided by Legall, it could be concluded that Shibdeen was the master mind of the fraud. Legall implicated one Imran Khan and one Kumar, two employees of the NBS.
It turned out that the two employees, Imran Bacchus and Kumar Ragobar were supervisors at the NBS.
Legall also stated that Mohan Shibdeen was involved in the back track business of taking people out of the country illegally and that he had assisted him in this business.
From what I have read from the Police file, I conclude the Ashley Legall is a low level street hustler, not very smart and who did not have the mental nimbleness to remember the address on the Power of Attorney. He actually stated his correct home address on the NBS documents.
I am writing to enquire whether you would agree that the information provided by Legall warranted a review of the earlier conclusion that the fraud was perpetrated with the help of Maurice Arjoon and the other two senior managers.
Even if it was decided to press with the prosecution of the three senior managers, would you agree that the information provided by Legall ought to have been disclosed to the defence?
I would be grateful for your comments on the above.
(Signed) Winston Moore
c.: Commissioner of Police
To date I have not received any answer from the DPP.
After his arrest, Ashley Legall who posed as Compton Chase gave a statement to the Police which he did not sign.
This statement, if true or only partially true, implicated one Mohamed Shibdeen, Legall and two employees of NBS as perpetrators of the fraud.
The choice of Canada as the supposed residence of Bibi Shamila Khan was no accident.
The record at the NBS shows that then Ms. Khan had obtained a so called “visa letter” from the NBS to support her application for a Canadian visa and this, as well as the amount of money in her account, would have been known to the NBS staff.
The mastermind of the fraud chose the supposed address for Bibi Shamila Khan- 2970 Jane Street, Toronto, Ontario M1K2J9- for a very good reason. Information provided by Interpol Ottawa to Interpol Georgetown through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows that the address is a valid one. It is a high rise building with many apartments so that checking for Bibi Shamila Khan would pose a problem.
The fact that no withdrawal was ever made from the account would also have made the account an attractive target for fraud.
I stated above that it is difficult for me to fathom why the three senior managers were charged in the first place.
It is even more difficult for me to understand why fresh charges were instituted against these three senior managers, Ms. Amrita Prashad (together with Legall and company) after Ashley Legall had made a statement to the Police naming a person whom he claimed he had assisted in the back track business, who appeared to be the mastermind.
The rush to the conclusion that the three top managers had orchestrated a massive fraud from the account of a depositor with their own organisation, is an area that angels would fear to tread, not to mention that Mr. Arjoon, the CEO was 6 months away from retirement.
The humiliation and trauma suffered by these persons and their families must have taken a toll on their health, not to mention the effects of these events on the morale of the NBS staff.
The missing exhibit indicates interference that was highly irregular. The fact that this document was removed from the Police file is not surprising.
Dr Ashni Singh, Minister of Finance, has to date not commented on the allegation by Mr. Arjoon that he deliberately suppressed the Bank of Guyana Report.
I refrain from stating any finding on anything allegedly said by former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
I can only observe that persons who hold high political offices, and are burdened with weighty affairs of state, who are only human after all, need to be very careful what they say in expressing frustration in the presence of subordinates.
Those who studied English History in High School during the Colonial era, might recall some outstanding events from which important lessons were taught.
The outburst of King Henry II during the 12th Century to some of his barons- “would someone not rid me of that meddlesome priest” – impelled a number of the barons to murder Archbishop Thomas Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral, to the later regret of the King.
Cardinal Wolsey who had overzealously served King Henry the 8th, lamented when he fell from power:
“Had I but serv’d my God with half the zeal
I serv’d my King, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies”.
Shakespeare’s play King Henry VIII Act 3, Scene 2
Underlings sometimes improperly invoke the name or office of the powerful when they seek to oppress others.
I have no jurisdiction to pronounce on the action of the NBS Board in firing the managers and I therefore refrain from any comment.
I however trust that the three senior managers and Ms. Amrita Prashad whoclearly appear to me to have suffered grave injustice when they were charged, would receive their due.
The complaint before me was made by Mr. Maurice Arjoon alone.
Having taken into account the following:
- The Statement by Mr. Arjoon that he received a call from Dr. Nanda Gopaul which he interpreted as a threat;
- The reference in the Police file to an exhibit listed as “ eleven pages of notes of Minister meeting”;
- The fact that this document was removed from the Police file;
- The fact that I can find no credible evidence of wrongdoing by any of the senior managers;
- The matters contained in the statements of Ashley Legall;
- The fact that the prosecution proceeded after said statement which clearly identified the perpetrators of the fraud who were persons other than the senior managers.
I am of opinion, and I so find, that Maurice Arjoon, Kent Vincent, Kissoon Baldeo and Amrita Prashad have all suffered injustice, notwithstanding the fact that they were all discharged by Magistrates at the various Preliminary inquiries.
I have no jurisdiction over civil proceeding before any court.
Mr. Arjoon has civil matters pending before the Court. I do not know whether anything disclosed in or by this report has any relevance to any of those pending proceedings.
I intend to distribute copies of this report as follows:
- Dr. Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, for transmission to his Excellency the President, Mr. Donald Ramotar,Dr. Ashni Singh, Hon. Minister of Finance and Dr. Nanda Gopaul, former Permanent Secretary, Presidential Secretariat.
- Mr. Anil Nandlall, Hon. Attorney General
- Mrs Elizabeth Harper, Director-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Mrs. Shalimar Ali-Hack, Director of Public Prosecutions
- Mr. Seelall Persaud, Commissioner of Police
- Mr. Maurice Arjoon, Complainant
THANK YOU NOTE
I am grateful for the cooperation and/assistance provided to me in this investigation by the following persons:
- Dr. Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat
- Mr. Seelall Persaud, Commissioner of Police
- Mrs. Shalimar Ali-Hack, Director of Public Prosecutions
- Mrs. Elizabeth Harper, Director-General Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Mr. Henry Chester, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Ret)
I always believe the aim of criticism is to improve performance and not to destroy. Any criticism contained in this report has been made with that in mind.
Dated 7th day, November, 2014.